Meeting the needs

We help to identify suitable responses to the needs and issues professionals encounter when working with children, young people and families.

The needs of children, young people, and their families are considered on a case by case basis.

The response from professionals is based on an assessment carried out using relevant statutory guidance. 

Practitioners should always use their professional judgement, experience and training.

The example indicators in the threshold guidance shouldn't be taken literally. Practitioners take account of support and resources available, local policies and Suffolk County Council priorities.

"Local authorities are not expected to meet every individual need, but they are asked to identify the extent of need and then make decisions on the priorities for service provision in their area in the context of that information and their statutory duties"
Children Act 1989 Regulations and Guidance Volumes, Vol 2, para 2.11

The Meeting the needs threshold guidance brings together information to assist professionals working to meet the needs of all children and young people in Suffolk.

If offers a framework for:

  • consultation, coordination and cooperation to promote welfare
  • identifying when a child has additional needs
  • identifying when a child is at risk of poor outcomes
  • assessing risk and balancing risk and vulnerability
  • deciding what action to take to enable and support children to meet their potential

There are 4 levels of need, as agreed by the Children's Trust Partnership.

1. Universal

When a child or young person is achieving expected outcomes.

Their needs are met within universal service provision without any additional support

2. Early intervention

When a child or young person is vulnerable and is starting to divert from expected outcomes.

They will require additional support for a limited time period.

3. Targeted

When a child or young person is vulnerable, with multiple and complex needs.

They aren't achieving the expected outcomes, and require more intensive but time limited support. (This includes the Child in Need threshold).

4. Specialist

When a child or young person is vulnerable with acute or highly complex needs.

They require intensive help and support from a limited range of specialist/statutory services, including children's social care. 

It will not always be clear which level of need a child or young person is in. You can use our appendix to help you.

In a tiered approach it is crucial to ensure a range of service provision is available to meet the needs of children in the community and to ensure that the appropriate services are accessed.

In order for this to be achieved it is important to remember that:

  • children and young people can and do move from one level to another, sometimes very quickly
  • children and young people in levels 2 to 4 need and use universal services
  • repeated assessments are not necessary to move children and young people from one tier to another
  • there will be some children and young people who should be enabled to move quickly and effortlessly to the required service response without moving through each level
  • for most children and young people the service aspiration is to secure them as low down the levels of need as possible 

It is expected that most referrals to children's social care will be supported by a common assessment framework (CAF) process.

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